Pieces Of Me… Sophie Bille Brahe
“Being around the people I love is the best feeling in the world, and the most important one.” ~ Sophie Bille Brahe
This new series is a dedication to the things that are most important to us. To the heirlooms (and memories they hold) that we wear on repeat; that we’ll cherish forever; that become part of us.
In homage to the fine jewellery designers whose pieces bring us so much joy, we’re taking a closer look at their lives through an intimate lens, gaining a sentimental snapshot of their personal stories and what’s most important to them.
We will forever treasure the celestial, timeless pieces from namesake designer Sophie Bille Brahe, so for this debut episode, we’re getting better acquainted with all of the little (and not so little) pieces of her life that make her, well, her.
"Me and my Border Collie, Snoopy, in the Copenhagen Showroom."
"My daughter Beate and son, Johan and dog Snoopy, wearing the Peggy necklace."
"The Grand Ocean Ensemble ring that I got as a present after I gave birth to my daughter, Beate."
"The point where the sea and the sky meet is so meaningful to me, and it’s something I try to catch in everything I do, in my work."
What was your route into design and how did you begin the brand?
When I finished my education in Denmark as a goldsmith, I felt like being specially trained in this craft meant that there would be no limits to what I was able to do. But actually, when you get taught a craft that is so old and so traditional, it’s very limiting because you feel that you’re only allowed to do things in a very particular way. I then studied for my masters at the Royal College of Art in London, where I had this huge sense of freedom.
Building a brand has always been a process for me as it started from something that was just a hobby and has become something professional. No matter how much the business changes, I always try to keep my values the same - I want to continue to work with the highest quality materials to create jewellery that feels new and interesting.
Who or what inspires you? What drives your creativity?
I collect inspiration wherever I go… it can be the memory of a vacation with my family, or reading an old poem in a book. I often look to my favourite museums like the Noguchi Museum in New York or Thorvaldsen’s Museum in Copenhagen. I have visited it so many times, but every time I go there I find a new small treasure to take with me. Art and architecture are so rewarding in that sense.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I’ve always had a creative force within me. Since I was young, I always liked to use my hands. I loved drawing, painting, building, and creating - I think overtime I naturally started to use my hands as a way to express myself. I started making jewellery when I was in the 7th Grade. I’ve always known that I wanted to develop some kind of craft. There’s something stable and structured about knowing a craft can earn a living.
One thing you can’t live without?
My family means the world to me. They keep me grounded in the world, and whenever I feel I might lift a little bit, there is nothing like my kids to ground me again.
"Søbadet where I enjoy swimming both summer and winter."
"Having dinner with my friend Nikolaj Møller wearing the grand ocean ensemble and the ensemble escargot."
"Shells are so dear to me, and they have always been a part of my life. I think that shells are the most precious things in my house."
"With friends and family at a dinner party."
What piece of clothing/accessory/jewellery makes you feel most like yourself?
My Peggy Necklace, I wear it with everything. It’s named after the art collector Peggy Guggenheim, and is strung with freshwater pearls. The pearls vary in size and have this graduating effect which is a true signature of my designs, and why I feel so true to myself when wearing them.
What is your greatest piece of treasure?
An old book my father gave me from a castle. It has stories and illustrations from great Danish artists and authors like Thorvaldsen and H.C. Andersen.
Which piece of jewellery do you wear the most?
When I gave birth to my daughter, my boyfriend gave me the Grand Ocean Ensemble ring as a present. I never take it off. It’s with me always, reminding me of what is dearest to my heart, but also the power and strength that women possess.
At the moment, I’m very inspired by Inger Christensen’s poetry collection “Alphabet” - it’s a poetry collection about the alphabet, but also about love and life. It has served as great inspiration for Lettres de Lumière - a collection that will launch in February.
I’ve watched Le Grand Bleu so many times! I am so fascinated and inspired by the ocean. My fascination for the ocean - the unknown depth and the mysterious world that lies beneath the blue waves - has also been a great source of inspiration and why so many of my pieces have been named after it.
Which three albums would you take on a desert island?
I sang “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young for my kids when they were small. It’s one of the greatest love songs if you ask me, and who doesn’t want to be sung to sleep to the image of a shining moon and words of love and tenderness in their ears?! I’d also bring with me the opera Lucia di Lammermoor, I would never be able to leave it behind. For dancing barefoot in the sand, I would bring David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”!
If you could live in any era, what would it be?
I love my life and our time as it is. I have never wanted to live in any other era. This century gives us so many possibilities and I couldn’t bear to see my freedom narrowed.
Do you have any hobbies?
Taking Snoopy, my Border Collie, for a walk in the woods. It’s a great way to clear my head and refresh my mind. Between him and I, I don’t know who’s the happiest for these walks.
"Me and my dog, Snoopy, running along the beach."
"Thorvaldsens Museum where I go to find inspiration."
"My grandmother’s sister and I shared a deep love of Karen Blixen’s writing so it came to me. As a woman, I find her so inspiring. She lived without compromise, she lived her life how she wanted. So, if ever I’m afraid of something, I think: okay, how would she have done it?"
"Lucia Di Lammermoor. This was my grandfather’s favourite opera, and I already loved it very much when my uncle told me the story behind it. It was an opera that nobody really liked too much until Maria Callas started to sing it. In the past singers had given it too much, but Maria Callas, she stripped away, so it became fragile. She didn’t try as hard as the others had. It became about the feeling you get from her beautiful, beautiful voice."
Where's your favourite place in the world?
Søbadet in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen. I go there every day, all year long, to swim in the ocean and warm myself up in the sauna. I also meet up with my mother there for our morning talk. It has become a tradition over the years, and it allows me to be relaxed and ready for the day to come.
What makes you laugh?
My dear friend and photographer, Nicolaj Møller always makes me laugh. I’ve known Nico for a long time now and he probably is the funniest person I know. I really treasure those evenings I spend with my friends, talking for hours about nothing, imagining a whole new world, and laughing as loud as we can.
What makes you cry?
My heart flows over whenever I hear opera. It’s unbelievable what the human voice is capable of - so much beauty, passion and poetry. These are not tears of sadness, I’m just baffled by the capacity of opera to convey so many emotions, it’s very powerful.
Do you have any phobias?
I’m very much afraid of heights! It started when I was a kid. Every Easter, my family would go to Roskilde to celebrate with some friends. One of their friends used to be the dean of the Roskilde Cathedral and as a special Easter tradition, we had to climb up to the spire. I will never forget looking down from the top!
If you could ask anyone a question, who would you ask, and what would you ask?
One question would surely not be enough! I would have cherished having a conversation with Karen Blixen. She could tell me all about her life in South Africa, her writing, her love life. She is such an important figure in my life. I’ve read her books over and over again, yet I always find new inspiration in them.
What do you need more time for?
I wish I had more time to visit my friends and play tennis. Sometimes I think about the last time I’ve seen this or that friend and it strikes me how fast time goes, and how easily you can leave aside the things that matter.
An event you wish you'd witnessed?
The late Maria Callas singing the aforementioned Lucia di Lammermoor, which is probably my favourite opera. I’m always moved when I listen to this great artist and I think all these emotions would have been doubled if I’d actually witnessed her on stage; how alive she was, how powerful.
What's your idea of happiness?
An image of myself on the beach with my kids in the shade. Very simple. Just me and the two people I treasure most in the world.
Interview by Sophy Davis Russell
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